5/04/11: A Whirlwind Trip to New York: ASJA, pizza, soup dumplings, donuts, blisters and more

I’m finally getting caught up enough to reflect on last week’s trip to New York. The impetus for the trip was the American Society of Journalists conference. I recently joined this group and have been truly wow’d by the talent, support and inspiration at its essence. My daily read of the forums, alone, has helped me focus my business, expand my goals and taught me quite a bit about the field, thanks to my accomplished colleagues. I was particularly excited for Friday’s event–Personal Pitch. Here, I met with a variety of agents and discussed a number of book ideas—one of which I’m currently researching (more on that later, wouldn’t want to jinx it). I also met Robert Luce, who is the editor of Chicago Scene. He once covered celebrity territory for US Weekly, so we swapped stories about the red carpet, dating back to my days as a stringer for People magazine.
Before and after the Friday and Saturday sessions, I ate my way around New York (Neil was on a pizza quest, so much of it revolved around circular-shaped meals). On Thursday, I met with my friend and editor Pauline Frommer at Motorino’s for pizza. Who knew Brussels sprouts could be such a refreshing topping on a white pizza? Lunch was followed by a walk and more eating at The Doughnut Plant.  A chocolate-chip-cookie-cake doughnut was just what I needed before ducking out of the rain and settling into a movie theater and enjoying “Mix Tape,” a series of short films at Tribeca Film Festival. Thursday night, we visited Lombardi’s, which considers itself America’s first pizzeria. The spinach and roasted red pepper pizza was delicious—thin but chewy crust and plenty of cheese (to Neil’s horror). Friday, after my day of sessions, we visited Jean-George Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen. The pretzel dusted calamari appetizer was the standout of the meal—unless you count the descriptions on the menu, which take the local/sustainable schtick too far, proclaiming where every item in the restaurant came from, from the plates to the tabletops to the servers’ DNA (ok, not really).
The next day, I attended ASJA sessions in the morning and then we really hit the town: Shanghai Joe’s for soup dumplings and scallion pancakes, Wo Hop for eggrolls, frozen hot chocolate at Jaques Torres and nearly 12 miles of walking (including crossing the Brooklyn Bridge). Then we hoofed it back to our room and changed, arriving just in time at The Moth storytelling event (The Seventh Annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature event)which was hosted by Salman Rushdie and included stories by Jonathan Franzen, Warren Macdonald, Jenny Allen and Edgar Oliver. By the time that was done, we were so beat, we stumbled into the nearest pizza joint, frontloaded some pie and hoofed it back to the hotel.
The next day, our stomachs now stretched from the calorie overload of Saturday, we started out with bagels at Brooklyn Bagel, and nibbled the carb-bombs on our way over to The High Line, which is a new park on the West Side that goes along an elevated railroad track.
With that, my time in New York was running out. I was seven blisters richer, two pounds heavier and inspired on many levels. I hopped on a shuttle to the airport and headed home, thrilled to be back in Chicago, surrounded by even more wonderful food, parks and people. (And three days later those extra two pounds are gone).

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